There’s a lot of people within the local music scene who will know Matt McIvor, if not by name then by sight. Usually found studiously tweaking knobs on a mixing desk at gigs or pumping out the music at Belfast Giants matches in the SEE Arena, he knows his sound.
With nearly 20 years experience of working with everyone from Duke Special to Paul Brady, he is that rarest of creatures, a soundman who is indeed, a sound man.
Lockdown seems to have been the impetus for McIvor to sit down and record one of his own songs (of which he has a few stored up). He has also been letting loose his own weekly “messy covers” of favourite songs on Facebook to some acclaim and they are definitely worth checking out.
‘Start‘ is his debut single and was written about a friend who was having a hard time. As McIvor says, the message is about it being ok to talk even when talking isn’t easy but also about finding comfort in music if you have no-one to talk to.
And what of ‘Start’? A couple of over-dubbed acoustic guitar parts carry the rhythm and lead/melody along at a pretty relaxed pace. This is simple but effective song writing; perfectly pitched and hugely accessible. The lyrics of the verses list the minor travails and annoyances of everyday life and the cumulative effect these can have on an individual’s mental health and psychological/emotional well-being. The bridge and chorus provide the antidote and perhaps the answer; be willing to talk and be ready and receptive to listen to those who need to talk.
McIvor’s voice is maybe the real surprise here. Restrained, almost delicate; definitely underplayed and not at all showy, flashy or overcooked. Altogether perfect for this track. Four minutes of bliss, ending in a short, sweet fade out.
Mental health has been a significant issue for a very long time in Northern Ireland. The current Covid-19 pandemic and it’s effects on our individual and collective well-being are yet to fully play out but it’s uplifting to hear someone like Matt McIvor produce a song with a simple, clear and unambiguous message about when and how to seek help.
It’s good to talk.
Photo by Joanne McIvor